Rainstorm forces rescuers to pause search for missing dog walker and 3 dogs

Annette Poitras, 56, was last seen near the Westwood Plateau Golf Club on Monday.

RCMP asks public to stay away from the area, as they may hinder search for Annette Poitras

Coquitlam Search and Rescue are searching for Annette Poitras, a dog walker known to frequent Eagle Mountain trails. (Annette Poitras/Facebook)

Rescue crews in Coquitlam, B.C., called off their search for a missing dog walker at sundown Tuesday and warned members of the public conditions at Eagle Mountain were too dangerous for anyone to continue the search.

Annette Poitras, 56, was last heard from around 3 p.m. Monday, and her van was found in the Westwood Plateau Golf Club parking lot. She was last seen walking three dogs: a border collie named Chloe, an older puggle named Bubba and a young boxer named Roxy.

Poitras hasn't been heard from since she took her three dogs for a walk. Chloe is a border collie, Bubba is a puggle and Roxy is a boxer. (Coquitlam Search and Rescue/Twitter)

Since the search began at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, dozens of RCMP officers and search and rescue volunteers have been seeking clues to her whereabouts, but wet, windy conditions and slippy terrain forced the officials to halt the search overnight.

"The truth is it's simply too dangerous right now for our rescuers to continue overnight," RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin told reporters.

"It should go without saying that if it's too dangerous out there for our expert rescuers, it is too dangerous for the public to come here and do their own attempt at rescue and investigation."

The search will begin again at first light Wednesday.

Police say they're thankful for the outpouring of support from members of the public, but too many people have been appearing at the search site.

"We have to ask that people stay away," McLaughlin said. "They are now at the point where they are hindering some parts of the investigation by contaminating the tracks and potentially putting themselves in danger."

Ian MacDonald, search manager for Coquitlam Search and Rescue, said crews have combed all of the known trails in the area, as well as new ones they discovered during the day. They've also surveyed the 10-15 square kilometre area from the air and searched for heat signals from Poitras and the three dogs.

So far, they've found no trace of the missing woman.

A normal day

There is no indication that Monday was anything but a normal day for Poitras, according to the search team. Her last phone call was routine, and she was familiar with the trails in the area — though she was also known to explore new routes.

"She may have gotten to a certain point and [elderly Bubba] just sat down. Her husband says she would not leave the dogs," said Coquitlam Search and Rescue spokesperson Michael Coyle.

"We know from experience that people can stay warm with a dog for a long period of time."

Poitras is described as four feet 11 inches with an athletic build. Police say she has blond hair, blue eyes and a lot of dog walking and trail experience.

The RCMP have released an image of the professional dog walker who is missing in Coquitlam. Annette Poitras is in her 50s and walks the trails often behind Port Moody and Coquitlam. (RCMP )

With files from Susana da Silva

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story contained an incorrect age for Annette Poitras. She is 56.
    Nov 21, 2017 10:13 AM PT